Criminal and Addictive Thinking

Criminal Thinking & Addictive
Presenter: Phillip Barbour
Master Trainer
Center for Health and Justice at TASC (CHJ)
About the Presentation
Thinking errors in criminals continue to expand into
almost all areas of their lives and they regularly fail
to deter their distorted thinking which results in
regular violence and harm of others. These thinking
errors are similar for the addicted offender as well,
leading to substance use and criminal activity. This
webinar is an overview of the criminal and addictive
thinking patterns and their similarities, tactics used
by the addicted offender in an effort to mask their
criminogenic needs, and "the lack of time
perspective" which prevents them from learning
from their experiences.
Goals of Criminal Thinking
 To describe and provide examples of
common criminal thinking errors in the
offender population.
 To help mental health and corrections
practitioners and offenders become
more aware of thinking errors and
thinking distortions.
 To assist change agents in facilitating
the criminal thinking change process.
The Criminal Thinking scope
is wide
 The module was created with community
based programming in mind.
 Individual study or open-ended groups
 A group size of 8 to 12 participants is
suggested, but larger groups are
effective too
 The module is designed to be used in
collaboration with the Criminal Thinking
Errors Worksheets
Criminal Thinking works in
other programs
Corrective Thinking, Domestic
Violence, AODA and/or CognitiveBehavioral focus
Adult male or female offenders
Batterers and/or drug abusers
7th grade reading level is the
intended target audience
The History
 Utilizes the theory and principles
developed by Stanton Samenow and
 Investigation of Criminal Behavior at St.
Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C.
 The longest clinical research of offenders
in North America
 Three volume publication The Criminal
Personality (Lanham, Md.: Roman and
Littlefield) that he co-authored with Dr.
Question: What is Criminal
A simple question
“thinking that says that its
alright to violate others or the
property of others”
Samuel Yochelson and Stanton Samenow
Why talk about Criminal
Broaden the scope of intervention
Provide information to help your
To help identify persons where this
may be an issue.
To aid the criminal thinker in
developing, expanding and
sustaining a moral conscious.
Thinking Patterns
closed channel thinking
victim stance
“good person” stance
“unique person” stance
fear of exposure
lack-of-time perspective
selective effort
use of power to control
seek excitement first
ownership stance
Thinking Patterns
closed channel thinking
self-pity stance
“good person” stance
“unique person” stance
fear of exposure
lack-of-time perspective
selective effort
use of deceit to control
seek pleasure first
ownership stance
1. Closed Channel Thinking
Not Receptive
Not Self Critical
No Disclosure
Good at pointing out, giving feedback
on faults of others
Lies by omission
2. Victim Stance
Views self as victim (the criminal
will even blame social conditions “I
live in the ghetto, what do you
Blames others (“the cops just keep
messing with me”)
3. Views Self As A Good
Focuses only on his/her positive
Fails to acknowledge his/her
destructive behavior
Builds self up at others expense
4. Lack Of Effort / Selective
• Unwilling to do anything he/she
finds boring or disagreeable
• "I can't" meaning "I won't“
• Doing only the minimum to get by
5. Lack Of Interest In
Responsible Performance
Responsible living viewed as
unexciting and unsatisfying
No sense of obligation
Will respond only if he/she nets an
immediate payoff
6. Lack Of Time Perspective
Does not use past as a learning tool
Expects others to act immediately
on his/her/demands
Decisions on assumptions, not facts
7. Fear Of Fear
Irrational fears (many) but refuses
to admit them
Fundamental fear of injury or death
Profound fear of put down
When held accountable
experiences "zero state“ feels
8. Power Thrust
Compelling need to be in control of
every situation
Uses manipulation and deceit
Refuses to be dependant unless
he/she can take advantage of the
9. Uniqueness
Different and better than others
Expects of others that which he/she
fails to meet
Super-Optimisim - cuts fear of
Quits at the first sign of failure
10. Ownership Attitude
Perceives all things, people, objects
to possess
No concept of ownership, rights of
Sex for power and control - not
Use drugs/money as a means of
controlling people
How do you know?
What are some tactics used by
the criminal thinker?
Criminal Thinking Tactics
1. Continuously point out staff
2. Building self up by putting others down
3. Telling others what they want to hear
4. Lying, distorting the truth
5. Vagueness
6. Diverts attention
7. Putting others on the defensive
8. Total inattention
9. Accusing others of misunderstanding
Criminal Thinking Tactics
10.Attempting to confuse others
11.Minimizes the situation
12.Agrees without meaning it
14.Selective attention
15.Make a big scene about minor issues
16.Putting off doing something by saying I forgot
17.Claiming that they have changed because they
did something right, once!
Factor’s of people’s past that
contribute to criminal
 A history of early involvement in deviant
or antisocial and criminal conduct;
 Having grown up in a disruptive, abusive
and neglectful family where there was
lack of parental attention and
 Failure in school, work and leisure time;
 AOD disorders at an early age
Risk factors contributing to
criminal conduct
Criminogenic need: Dynamic risk
factors or attributes of offenders
that, when changed, influence the
probability of recidivism
Do criminals think differently
than normal people?
 Researchers believe thought patters are
more important than biology or
environment in determining who
becomes a criminal. Some major
characteristics include:
– master manipulators
– compulsive liars
– people not in control of their own behavior.
Thinking errors or thinking
A cognitive distortion is a way of
thinking that is automatic to the
point that we continue to engage in
the errors of thinking even though
our experiences and the facts do
not support the thinking errors.
The mental process required by the
criminal to live his/her kind of life.
The Criminogenic Need
Most offenders have many needs.
However, certain needs are directly
linked to crime. Criminogenic needs
constitute dynamic risk factors or
attributes of offenders that, when
changed, influence the probability
of recidivism.
Criminogenic Needs:
 Self-oriented communication patterns
 Need for family closeness and communication
 Need for primary social unit structures such as
 Involvement in antisocial and deviant behaviors
 Need to manipulate and to control others
 Receive rewards through criminal conduct
 Participate in environments of high-risk for
criminal conduct
Criminogenic Needs:
 Blame others for own action and behaviors
 Impaired moral reasoning; hold selfserving/antisocial moral codes
 Overall impaired social and interpersonal skills
 Overt acting out of feelings of anger and
 Thinking in a “black and white” concrete
 Need to use substances to support criminal
and antisocial conduct
Question: Who are they
really hurting?
Injuries Unseen
Injury worksheet
Self & Victim
Quality of Life
“Ripple Effect”
How do you fix this?
Related Self-corrections
Criminal Thinking Scales
Personal Irresponsibility
Power Orientation
Cold Heartedness
Criminal Rationalization
Knight, K., Simpson, D. D., Garner, B. R., Flynn, P. M., & Morey, J. T. (in
The TCU Criminal Thinking Scales
Steps to undoing Criminal
 Learning other-directed communication patterns
 Develop ties with family or family-like
 Develop positive social unit and family
 Replace antisocial with pro-social behaviors
 Develop self-control and self-confidence
 Shift reward potential to non-criminal conduct
 Develop skills to avoid or cope with high-risk
Steps to undoing Criminal
 Develop responsibility for own behavior and
 Develop pro-social and more other-reflective
moral codes
 Develop social and coping skills through social
skills training
 Learn self-regulation of angry feelings and other
 Develop skills to increase abstract reasoning
and thinking
 Develop recreational, vocational, and
interpersonal alternatives to AOD use and
criminal conduct
Texas Christian University (TCU)
Criminal Thinking Scales
Testing Forms
Criminal Thinking Therapy
Entire curriculum

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